RIP Philip Roth (1933 – 2018)
American literary icon Philip Roth died on Tuesday at the age of 85.
The author’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed his death, saying Roth died of congestive heart failure. His biographer, Blake Bailey, added on Twitter that Roth died ‘surrounded by lifelong friends who loved him dearly’.
Roth was often linked with the Nobel Prize, but was never awarded it. However, he won most of the other top literary honours available over his 50-year career.
Roth explored the Jewish experience in the United States but rejected being described as a Jewish-American writer. His work also concerned itself with outward issues, including the Vietnam War, McCarthyism, the US culture wars and fascism.
He first rose to prominence with his 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, which received the National Book Award for Fiction. In total, he won two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle awards, three PEN/Faulkner Awards, a Pulitzer Prize – for his 1997 novel American Pastoral, which featured perhaps his best-known characters, Nathan Zuckerman – and the Man Booker International Prize.
The Human Stain (2000), another Zuckerman novel, won the WH Smith Literary Award for the best book of the year. In 2001 Roth received the inaugural Franz Kafka Prize in Prague. In 2010, US President Barack Obama awarded Roth the National Humanities Medal for his contribution to American letters.
In 2012 Roth announced that Nemesis would be his last novel, making way for a retirement spent swimming, watching baseball and reading.